With a $15 Million Start From the Ford Foundation, The Black Feminist Fund Takes Flight

Illustration for article titled With a $15 Million Start From the Ford Foundation, The Black Feminist Fund Takes Flight
Photo: Jacob Lund (Shutterstock)

Black women matter—because when we win, we typically bring everyone to the finish line. The Ford Foundation clearly recognizes the value in investing in Black women, as on Thursday, it was announced that the philanthropic organization is providing $15 million to launch The Black Feminist Fund, “a philanthropic organization led by Black feminists whose mission is to boost funding for global movements that support that Black women,” according to Barron’s, which also reported:

The Black Feminist Fund started as a kitchen-table conversation in 2013 that co-founder Tynesha McHarris describes as part “love fest” and part “venting session,” but ultimately led to brainstorming an idea to move significant resources “unapologetically” to Black feminists.

“We were talking about something that was so meaningful to us—why is it difficult to get resources for this kind of movement work, especially when it’s led by Black feminists and Black women,” says McHarris, who is the principal of Black Harvest, a Black feminist consulting firm.

The fund will fill a gap by providing a vehicle focused specifically on Black women, and dedicated to systems change around “ending racism and sexism and the shared ways in which those oppressions work against each other,” McHarris says. There is also no comparable group looking at connecting this kind of work across the African diaspora, from the continent of Africa, to the Caribbean, U.S., Europe, and Latin America, she says.

Advertisement

According to Barron’s also Ford’s funding was derived from proceeds raised through a $1 billion social bond sold last June. “The funding is among several efforts the foundation has provided in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which has had a disproportionate effect on women and people of color,” Barron’s notes, adding: “Of the funds deployed from the bond sale so far, 87%, or about US$315 million, have been for organizations led by women and/or working on issues affecting women, according to the foundation.”

“The issues we are trying to combat today to improve the lives of women and girls across the globe are the same issues that existed before the pandemic,” Maria Torres-Springer, vice president of U.S. Programs at the Ford Foundation told the outlet. But as recent statistics have revealed, Black and brown women have been among those most deeply affected by the pandemic, deepening already-existent disparities, and potentially setting economic progress back a generation for women in general (who still earn 24 percent less than their male counterparts, on average).

The creation of this new philanthropic foundation, which intends to grant funds to organizations focused on a range of strategies to empower women and also has fiscal support from the San Francisco-based Global Fund for Women, will ideally allow “women and girls to pursue and realize their fullest potential,” says Torres-Springer. As founder McHarris pointedly notes, that includes the most marginalized within this already marginalized group, like transgender women and those with disabilities, bringing them “from the margins to the center,” an intention Black feminists have long considered the foundation of their liberation project.

“Black feminists are known for making the impossible possible,” she added.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

DISCUSSION

Am I tripping or was Henry Ford racist as all hell?